It has been years since I have been in a position to advocate for what was then, Alabama’s 20 Holocaust survivors. I am sure the number is fewer now. Ms Sonja Bromberg was one survivor that I knew well and was quite fond of.
Sonja shuddered when she recalled seeing Hitler as a child in Germany. She told the story of her father hiding her in a group home, then of riding a huge boat over to the United States. She would tell of the amazement and grandness of spotting Lady Liberty on her way to the harbor.
Sonja was small and elderly. She was lively and spunky. Her eyes sparkled when she would recall the first banana she had ever eaten on the boat to America. She said that she was so hungry and didn’t know how to eat it, that she actually gobbled the whole thing up, peel and all.
She was a sort of living history I had never imagined I would encounter. We became friends over the years. Sonja had a sister whom lived in Florida that she kept in touch with, but no other family. I used to take her things she needed and visit with her. I organized marches and rallies on her behalf, to remember and recognize the horrors of such hate and evil like that of Nazi Germany.
My boys knew her, not as a name on a list, but as a human person. They helped me help care for her.
The Israeli Knesset issued me a “Certificate of Honour” for my outstanding help and support to Holocaust survivors, that they viewed it as a sign of Friendship between our two nations. I have the award kept safely in a frame here in Alabama.
I didn’t do it for the Honour of recognition. I did it because it was right.
As of the past few years I have been in the mire of a fight with my home state. Advocating in turn for my hometown and Cherokee-lands state park. I keep up with the friends I have made at the Israel Leadership Institute through Facebook, and have read of Ms. Sonja’s passing this last October.
May her legacy be remembered.